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Phrases Every Aspiring Actor Should Understand by

Rookies often think that after auditions, the next step is simply finishing the job on set and getting paid for it later. But auditions are merely the first step when it comes to professional acting. A first-time actor may come across unfamiliar terms on the first day of their jobs and it can cause miscommunication between them and the production team. This can result in a bad business relationship and decrease your chances in getting hired again.

The entertainment industry is filled with acting jargon that rookies aren’t knowledgeably equipped with yet. To learn more about more basic terms such as acronyms used that every actor should know, click on the article here.  So before heading out to your first acting job, it is best to familiarize with a few helpful phrases. Note that some of these phrases have been passed on for generations and there is a pretty good chance that it has not changed over the years.

1. 10-1

acting phrases

This is the universal code for “bathroom break.” Assistant Directors can use this anytime by saying, “Okay, time for a 10-1!” In some cases, they use the term “honeywagon,” a sophisticated term used to describe portable bathrooms.

2. ADR-Looping

acting phrases, adr

Literally, this means automated dialogue replacement or simply referred to as “looping.” It is the process of recording an actor’s speech separate from the actual scene on set but will be incorporated to it later. One of the most famous examples throughout movie history is the original Star Wars movie series. David Prowse was the actor behind the villain’s mask, while the real character’s voice for Darth Vader was provided by James Earl Jones.

3. Back to One

back to one

After a certain take, the first assistant director will instruct an actor (or the extras) that they need to go back and redo the whole scene.

4. B-Roll

b roll, acting phrases

A B-Roll is cutaway to the actual scene. It helps tell the story intended for the film. This is commonly used in all sorts of media settings especially for news reporting. But when used for movies, it is applied for flashback or simultaneous scenes that are in tune with the actual story.

5. Banana or Doing a Banana

film set, acting phrases

This is where an actor is instructed to walk in the scene in a slight curve instead of a straight line. It usually is done for cameras to see directly behind you or get the angle they want. Alternative to this is the “cashew,” which is a shorter curve.

6. Big Eyes

behind the scenes, movie, acting phrases

When the actor is told before the scene is shot that the camera will be focused on them for a close-up, the director will instruct “big eyes.” Big eyes means you shouldn’t look away or blink so they can get the shot without it looking awkward.

7. Camera Left-Right

behind the scenes, acting phrases

As the name implies, it indicates camera perspective or view. For example, if you happen to be facing the camera, camera left will be positioned on your right. So when actor enters from screen left to screen right, the next shot will show an opposite direction.

8. Cheat

walking dead, behind the scenes, cheat cam

Sometimes called “cheat toward the camera,” to be more precise. An actor may be directed to move toward the camera so the audience can see their facial expression. They don’t face their body directly to it but in a rather subtle manner. Hence, the word “cheat” is used.

9. Closed Set

behind the scenes, film set

Closed sets mean there is a nude scene or love scene going on. As per protocol, only a few authorized people are assigned to come in set.

10. Four-Banger

trailer, acting phrasesThis name may sound odd, but it’s actual a normal description for a trailer with four dressing rooms. The trailers are usually large but they are far from glamorous and most are are just small boxes good for one person.

11. Green Room

movie set, green room

A green room is a backstage room in a theater where performers rest or have visitors. Film sets also have the same concepts.

12. Groucho

groucho walk, acting phrases

Contrary to the “reverse Groucho,” this is when an actor is instructed to hunch over a bit so the cameraman can focus on him without tilting up.

13. Lunch

behind the scenes, lunch

This doesn’t usually pertain to the actual time most nine-to-five jobs take their lunch, as film sets have varying schedules. If filming begins at night, then expect lunch time to be halfway through too.

14. MOS

motion omit sound, actor phrases

“MOS” translates to Motion Omit Sound. It means silent filming.

15. The Martini

filming, martini shot

Martini Shot is the very last shot on the film set for that particular day.

16. Pay or Play

acting phrases, pay or play

When it comes to filmmaking, everyone involved in the said production can sign a contract that guarantees money paid for appearance or contribution whether or not they appear in the film. The arrangement is also known as a “pay-or-play” contract.

For example, actor Marlon Wayans was arranged to play Robin in Batman Returns and Batman Forever. Despite the role going to another actor named Chris O’ Donnell when the actual movies were released, Wayans reportedly still received full pay.

17. Room Tone

room tone, film set

Actors have to stand still and make sure that when they do so, they don’t disrupt the scene. If “room tone” is required or indicated, the production expects all mobile devices to be off too. The whole film set is arranged to have microphones positioned at different areas to mark the set’s boundary and which areas can be heard on camera.

Other helpful acting phrases that are used in film sets are POV, this one is self-explanatory. It notes where the camera shoots the scene.There is also the term edge of frame, which describes how much of the actual scene is filmed on camera. Lastly, there is the term Apple Box . It is a wooden crate used to enhance an actor, director, and an onset camera’s height.

There are so many different helpful phrases and terms out there that an actor should learn after he books his or her first acting job. It is not necessary to bring a glossary on set or spend your nights memorizing them instead of your lines, but it will help a rookie actor in his career to be equipped with this type of knowledge before heading to the film set.